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The Electric State Hardcover – 6 Sep 2018
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About the Author
Simon Stålenhag (b. 1984) is the internationally acclaimed author, concept designer and artist behind Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. His highly imaginative images and stories depicting illusive sci-fi phenomena in mundane, hyper-realistic Scandinavian and American landscapes have made Stålenhag one of the most sought-after visual storytellers in the world. Tales from the Loop was ranked one of the "10 Best Dystopias" by The Guardian, along with such works as Franz Kafka's The Trial and Andrew Niccol's Gattaca.
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The accompanying narration is linear and underwhelming. The protagonist is an unrelatable, borderline sociopathic, anachronistically millennial teenager. She enumerates generic West Coast place names. "We drove along Canyon Lane past Cedar Woods, Woodrington Heights and Coast Terrace trying to reach El Rancho before heading off to El Mezcalito". Repeat on every single page. All toponyms are entirely fictional, so even if you are from California, that won't add any relevant information. Nothing really happens and the pace quickly changes from what we may at best call brisk to glacial. We find out very little about this world, how it works, what has happened, when, why. We don't get any clues to answer these questions ourselves in our imagination either. There's also the cliché teenage angst about foster parents and failed romance. The book is marketed as a tour de force travelogue across a cyberpunk phantasmagoria, in a world similar to our own but that took a wrong turn somewhere in the early 1990s. But it really is an oversized collection of postcards with a one-dimensional, poorly written narration on the side.
To finish on a positive note, this could make a wonderful TV series if the basic concept is put in the hands of a capable screenwriter who can spin the story into an action-packed suspense/drama/road movie. Stalenhag certainly is a talented artist with some original ideas, but he would benefit from the help of a more entertaining storyteller next time. He could also add more variety and some spice into his art. It's all very static, scenic and scripted. Probably not enough to drive a narrative on its own. A succession of decently crafted images a good story does not make.
I really don't want to give too much away. If you are a fan of an alternate history, where something has gone a little wrong, you will enjoy this road trip. Perfect sci-fi. This will win awards.
The illustrations show a downright creepy version of the world where the society of a country is addicted to the joys of a virtual reality system named the "Mode 6".
The book is filled with amazing drawings and panels detailing the protagonist's journey and thoughts.
I literally haven't been able to put it down. I remember seeing some of the images in this book years ago on image boards and always wondering who created the brilliant drawing.
I'll definitly be buying Simons other two books in the future if they're anything like this.